When Andy Balan says he’s on his client’s side, he really means it. So much so that his desire to help small companies moved him to leave his job at Amazon and start eSale Solutions.
After working at Amazon for three years, Balan knew the unique needs that small- to mid-size businesses have. He started there as a buyer for billion dollar companies before switching positions to work with mom-and-pop companies at Amazon Fresh. Working on both ends of the spectrum, he saw an obvious gap in the process smaller companies have to take to enter the online marketplace.
Knowing he could help bridge this gap, Balan left Amazon and moved to Chicago, where he began eSale, in October 2014. His test customers while he was building the software were some of his previous clients, and he found his first employee, Brain Wawok, on Craigslist.
After seven months of Balan and Wawok building the business from the ground up, Balan reconnected with a 5th grade classmate, Sarah Lukas, on LinkedIn, to complete the team. The business officially launched on May 26, 2015 when Lukas was fully on board.
eSale Solutions offers businesses many features to make it easy to sell and manage their products online, including an easy-to-use portal that was built specifically for small businesses, automatic inventory optimization, multiple shipping options, the capability to add items to Amazon without a UPC barcode, a flat monthly rate with no contract, and photography optimization services.
After working out of coffee shops and his living room for several months, Balan began looking for an office for his company in April 2015. He wanted a private working space within a coworking and start-up atmosphere. “Level is exactly what I imagined my ideal working space to look like,” he says.
Since their move, eSale has seen their customer base double, and they were recently invited to compete along with 121 other companies at TechWeek in Chicago. They made it to the top 16, where they competed for $50k in prizes as the Chicago regional champ, as well as a chance to compete nationally for a $50k investment. They have been invited to participate for these prizes again at the TechWeek in Kansas City this Fall.
There are a handful of other businesses helping companies like eSale does, but they are working at the enterprise level. Balan explains, “eSale is not doing anything completely revolutionary, but rather tweaking a solution that is already out there for independent artists, mom and pop shops, or small to mid-size businesses who need help entering the online marketplace.”
Balan’s vast exposure to the industry and different business sizes gives him a competitive advantage when working with his clients. “We show expertise and are on our client’s side to advocate their businesses in the digital world,” he says. With this expertise, Balan is excited to see how eSale will expand to help even more companies focus on their passion, not their process.